A coalition of former state legislators and other elected officials is urging Floridians to vote ‘no’ on proposed Amendments to the state constitution. They are calling for significant reforms to the Revision Commission’s process, and even entertaining the idea of its abolition.
They call themselves "Save My Constitution." The newly-formed group is not mincing words in discussing the Constitution Revision Commission.
Former lieutenant governor Jeff Kottkamp, who served under Governor Charlie Crist, kicked off the Coalition’s inaugural press conference at the Capitol Tuesday.
“When we see the voters of Florida being presented a multitude of confusing, misleading and politically-bundled constitutional amendments that were promoted by special interest groups, we resolved to stop it,” Kottkamp said.
The group acknowledges they’re not the only ones taking aim at proposed amendments. Two of the proposals, pertaining to education greyhound racing, have been removed from the ballot by lawsuits. Appeals are still pending.
Klottkamp and the group are asking voters to reject all of the proposed amendments the CRC put forward. That includes former Republican Representative Jim Kallinger.
“Step number one: when you get your ballot, turn it over and go to the very end. Step number two: vote no on all CRC amendments, six through 13,” Kallinger said. “Step number three: go back to the front of your ballot, and continue voting.”
The group also has a long-term goal of overhauling the Commission. Former Representative Don Brown says that could mean scrapping it altogether.
“With our colleagues in the House and the Senate, with them we will begin discussing a legislative resolution that will appear on the ballot in 2020,” Brown said. “We expect deliberations on the need to either abolish the CRC, or create an appropriate framework, and scope of authority around the CRC to prevent any potential abuses of power in the future.”
CRC members are appointed by the Governor, House Speaker, Senate President and Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court. Save My Constitution is concerned about who those members represent. They raise questions about accountability.
For instance, CRC member Erika Donalds was appointed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Donalds authored Amendment 8, whose critics say it bundles things like teaching civics in schools with increasing state oversight – while diminishing local control — of charter schools.
Kallinger says the Coalition plans to get in the ears of as many voters as possible using aggressive outreach.
“Our plan is to spread the word around Florida via speaking engagements, print and social media – maybe some radio, maybe some television ads,” Kallinger said.
Right now, the Coalition boasts 16 former elected officials. All of them are Republicans.